Root Cause – A Novel by Steven Laine

Root Cause

Being somewhat of  a wine geek who regularly reads non-fiction wine books to further my knowledge and understanding of the grape, this fictional novel was an absolute treat to read as the main characters took me on a global tour of the world’s best wine-making regions, all while solving the mystery of finding the eco-terrorist who bio-engineered a devastating threat to the world’s vines.


Flying wine maker Corvina Guerra comes from a wine making family and has dreams of eventually settling down and making wine from her family’s own vineyard in Italy. She has spent years travelling the globe for huge wine conglomerate Universal Wines, making wines for many of the company’s portfolio of wineries.

When Corvina discovers Phylloxera eating away at vines that have been grafted and should be resistant to the pest, she knows that something has to be done to avoid a repeat of the global devastation the pest caused in themid 1800’s. No one at her company seems to think the threat is real, however, and Corvina, has to convince her CEO to let her investigate.

She enlists the help of a disgraced former Master of Wine candidate, Bryan Lawless. At first Corvina has Universal Wine’s blessing and financial backing on their journey to discover the cause of this new form of Phylloxera, but as they discover that the bug was genetically engineered and being spread on purpose by an eco-terrorist, Universal Wines fires Corvina, but the two continue the investigation on their own.

They eventually do solve the mystery, all while taking the reader on an adventurous global tour of adventure.


The book is an easy read that kept me engaged. I thought the eco-terrorist aspect was an absolutely genius plot and it makes the book feel current and believable. I also appreciated that while there is obvious tension between Corvina and Brian, it does not become the overriding subject of the book.

From Italy to London, Chile to South Africa, and finally in an Indian Jones-esque romp through the underground tunnels in Champagne, the book is an engaging mystery with well developed characters and plenty of action.

My only complaint is that early in the book, a reporter that ends up assisting in the investigation publishes an article with Phylloxera inadvertently auto-corrected to “Philomena.” Apparently no one, in the entire world, knows any better and starts calling it Philomena throughout the entire book. I found this to not be plausible and therefore a bit of a distracting annoyance, that I believe will be easier to ignore if you know about it going in.

*** I received this book for free in exchange for reading and posting a review. All opinions are my own.


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